Enemies at Home

"To sum up, all in all, I absolutely loved this book."


Flavia Alba, adopted daughter of the much loved Falco, has adopted his calling as an investigator. As a young, widowed and attractive woman she can go where more manly characters cannot go but is also more vulnerable (not that she pays much attention to that). In this, her second case, she is called in to assist Manlius Faustus, a plebian aedile, in a case involving the death of two newly married Romans. The main question relates to the extent to which the household slaves are responsible either directly or by failing in their responsibility to defend their owners. Fearing the worst they have fled for sanctuary to the Temple of Ceres, where their presence is a considerable embarrassment.

As Flavia learns more about the household and the arrangements set in place by the merging of two households instituted by the wedding, she discovers undercurrents of lust, jealousy and fear that contribute to all that happens. As she gets closer to the answer she herself comes into danger. In the end Flavia's cool understanding of human nature and attention to detail leads her to unravel the mystery.

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The dry wit and humour, together with an astute understanding of humanity, is Flavia's inheritance from her father. Those of us who loved Falco will also love Flavia. The humanity of ancient Rome and the flavour of the streets and Roman life are all there in the writing. It is always surprising to read about the similarities between the time of the Caesars and life today. Lindsey Davis' in-depth knowledge of the time and the city make this a vivid and enjoyable tale of people faced with difficult choices against a steaming and in some cases stinking, Rome. The story is intriguing and difficult to second guess, particularly as the politics of slave owning is not familiar to many. I particularly liked the characters in this story. Flavia very much enjoys working with Manlius Faustus and their relationship definitely moves up a notch when he takes on nursing her through a difficult time before she returns home to her parents to recuperate. The slaves are a disparate group of people living together in close proximity and Davis has an excellent way of describing the idiosyncrasies of the individuals in a way that makes you feel you know them. To sum up, all in all, I absolutely loved this book.

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